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Spotlighting or lamping (also jacklighting and pit-lamping) is a method of hunting nocturnal animals using off-road vehicles and high-powered lights, spotlights, lamps or flashlights, that makes special use of the eyeshine revealed by many animal species. A further important aspect is that many animals (e.g. foxes and rabbits) often remain to continually stare at the light and do not appear to see the light as a threat as they normally would view a human. It is possible to carefully approach animals on foot to a short distance if the bright light is continuously maintained on the animal to greatly improve chances of successful killing. Spotlighting may also be used as a method of surveying nocturnal fauna. Repeated, frequent spotlighting may have a detrimental effect on animals and is discouraged.
The spotting and shooting often take place from the moving vehicle. Experienced drivers on familiar territory (such as farmers in their own paddocks) may turn off the vehicle headlights to minimize the distractions.
The most common vehicles used are light four-wheel drive trucks and utilities. A team may consist of three persons, the driver and the shooter and the spotter. The shooter and spotter stand side by side behind the cab, holding onto a bar at the front of the tray or on top of the cab, which allows them a good 360 degree view. The spotter sweeps the surrounding countryside with a powerful hand-held lamp with a tightly focused beam.
Spotlighting can be conducted by two persons where the driver operates the spotlight or alone where the driver spotlights using a remote mounted spotlight or automotive lighting and shoots from the driver's seat of the vehicle.
Experienced spotlighters can recognize different animals by the spacing and size of their eyes and the color of their eyeshine. For example, eyeshine is reddish in foxes and bluish in sheep; like sheep, horses and cattle have bluish eyeshine but their eyes are wider spaced and larger.
Spotlighting is illegal in many states and provinces.
UK and Ireland: lamping
Lamping is a similar practice in the UK and Ireland of hunting at night using powerful lamps and either guns, birds of prey or dogs. It does not always involve vehicles. Its legal status in the UK is complicated by a swathe of different laws relating to firearms and to specific animals. Animals associated with this form of hunting include fox, rabbit, and hare.
In England, Scotland, and Wales, most forms of hunting with dogs have been made illegal by the Hunting Act 2004 but rabbits and rats were specifically included on a list of exemptions, so that lamping these animals with dogs is still legal. Hunting fox, rabbit and hare with dogs is still legal in Northern Ireland. In Britain lamping foxes with dogs has been rendered illegal, but lamping is still possible if shooting. Killing badgers without a licence is illegal in the UK in any case.
Once an animal has been located with the beam of the light, either it is shot or the dog(s) is/are released. The dogs used are generally lurchers (cross between a sighthound and any other breed of dog, or longdogs, a cross between two sight hounds, typically a greyhound and a saluki), but they can be a cross of many breeds and Teasles.
Although white light is often used for lamping, sometimes a red or orange filter is preferred, as this still makes the animal's eyes reflect back the light but has less negative effect on the night vision of the hunters (both humans and dogs).
- Pennsylvania Game Commission - State Wildlife Management Agency: The Jacklighters[dead link]
- Description of lamping with dogs from the Association of Lurcher Clubs
- Van, Maike (2009-08-27). "Spotlight on illegal hunting". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Hunter who shot teacher jailed - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Hunter shot by mate - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2015-04-15.